Israel’s social protest – some sobbering lessons for all

Israel is in the middle of a “summer of discontent”. Strikes, social protests, and heatwaves; as well as Syrian border provocation, rockets fired near daily from Gaza, Palestinian games at the UN. Not a fun time to be Bibi Netanyahu, the Prime Minister.

If Israelis were to take a step back from the real picture and have a look in as an outsider, what would they learn? Unfortunately, the truth may be painful.

Consider the doctors’ strike, one of the first links in the chain of protests this year.  The whole country has known from the beginning that the Treasury had to capitulate. The injustice was there for all to see, as young hospital doctors often work 36 hour shifts. Only after 4 months of talks and a hunger strike from the head of the doctors’ union have the sides now almost signed an agreement.

Where are basic negotiating skills? Where was the Minister of Health, who also happens to be the Prime Minister? Why did patients have to suffer for so long? Where was governmental responsibility – looking at the bigger picture, not just trying to save a few shekels?

Next, have a good look at those elements of the community, who are not well represented in the demonstrations. Most noticeable by their absence are the religious sections – from ultra orthodox to “modernists”. They also suffer from expensive housing, lack of hospital beds, over priced basic goods.

However, these people have been too afraid to associate with those sections who they do not mix with, socially or politically. And that is one of Israel’s great weaknesses, the inability of vast parts of society to realise that we all live together in one house.

United we may stand, but it is still very much a case of divided we will fall.

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